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Eric And Ilsa From Vancouver Can't Scrape By On $450,000/Year

It's a dilemma all of us struggle with: working two days a week for an annual salary of $300,000; all five kids are in private school; how will we ever be able to build a house while scraping by?

Such a First World conundrum sounds like a satirical story in The Onion, but is actually the subject of this week's Financial Facelift column where Globe and Mail readers ask for advice.

Eric and Ilsa, who live in Vancouver, are in a real pickle.

Eric, a doctor, earns $200,000 a year working one day a week in a medical clinic, and an additional $100,000 annually teaching one day a week at a university, says the column. His wife, Ilsa, is a dentist who is currently on maternity leave. When she returns to work, their combined income is $450,000.

They currently live rent-free in a relative's house. Last fall, they bought a lot for $1.1 million and want to build a house for their family and live-in nanny.

But Eric wrote: "Two professionals should be able to afford a modest house, but we can't get the numbers to work and would appreciate some help."

UPDATE: The Globe and Mail issued a correction stating, "The doctor has clarified in saying he works more than 100 hours a week through longer working hours and extra days and hours both in medicine and teaching." That was later amended again to "up to 80 hours many weeks."

A disclaimer was also added to the online version of the column on Monday: "Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled."

As expected, the Internet had plenty of advice for the couple, with #EricandIlsa springing up as a Twitter hashtag.

There's a parody Twitter account (Eric and Ilsa) already, and maybe even plans for a TV sitcom. Well, we'd watch anyway.

Some online commenters were skeptical that Eric and Ilsa's situation was legit but Darcy Keith, the Globe's investment editor, confirmed that the query was real. Two editors and the writer spoke to the subject who was seeking advice, Keith told The Huffington Post B.C. in an email.

Anyone can apply for a "financial facelift" to get free, confidential advice from a financial planner, according to a Globe Q&A. Investment editor Sonali Verma wrote: "For the most part, we reject people who are extremely wealthy and people who are writing in to show how well they are doing."

For the record, the financial expert's advice was for Eric to work one more day a week in the clinic.


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